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February 26, 2014
Pelletier Headed to Foster Care, Romeikes' Fate Uncertain
ParentalRights.org was watching two court cases on Monday, and neither has been resolved.
The first case was Romeike v. Holder, the asylum case for the family who fled Germany over their right to choose the form of education their children receive. Given that every case on Monday’s list was denied cert (turned down for a hearing before the Supreme Court), we were thankful the case did not make the list. But the case’s absence from the entire report came as a complete surprise. To be on the discussion schedule for Friday (as it was) and not reported on the following Monday is exceptional.
The Romeike case has been scheduled for discussion again this Friday, February 28. So we will watch for the March 3 report to learn whether the Court will take up this case to defend parental rights.
The second case was that of Justina Pelletier, the 15-year-old Connecticut girl who was taken into custody by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families on Feb. 15, 2013 – more than a year ago – because her parents and doctor disagreed with a new diagnosis issued by a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH).
Justina was diagnosed in 2012 with mitochondrial disease, a condition in which the cells are unable efficiently to produce the necessary energy for sustaining the body. It is a hereditary condition which she shares with her older sister. Through a special diet and supplements, Justina’s mito was under control, allowing her to do the things a normal teen would do, including her favorite: ice skating.
Then she got the flu, and was sent to BCH where her gastroenterologist has privileges. But when she got there, the hospital refused to let her see her specialist. Instead, a new doctor denied her treatment for her pain and other symptoms and sent in the psychiatric team instead. Justina was diagnosed with somatoform disorder – a psychiatric condition in which she is only imagining her health symptoms – and moved to the psychiatric wing.
When her parents protested and sought to take her to Tufts Medical Center – the respected teaching hospital where her own fully licensed physician practices – BCH called in Massachusetts Department of Children and Families, who took custody of Justina. The hospital accused the parents of medical abuse – for following the diagnosis and treatment instructions issued by her own physician!
Parents Lou and Linda Pelletier have been through several hearings in the last year, each time hoping that reason will reign and their daughter will be returned to their care. In December, the judge ruled that Justina could leave the hospital – but that she would remain in the care of the state. She was later transferred to a non-medical care facility.
The latest hearing was Monday, Feb. 24 – the same day we expected to hear back on the Romeike case - and the family once again hoped and prayed that Justina would be returned home. Since the change in her diagnosis and treatment, her physical condition has worsened considerably, to the point that she can no longer walk, but is constrained to a wheel chair.
Instead, the judge ordered her into foster care, still under the direction of Massachusetts DCF, and still without the medical care she needs. Overwhelmed by sadness and stress, mother Linda collapsed outside the court room and had to be taken by ambulance to another Boston hospital, where she is still being kept for observation. Even more tragically, Justina continues to suffer the wrong medical care while the state pursues its case of “medical abuse” against her parents.
The Pelletiers return to court March 17 for the next hearing in their custody battle. Lou Pelletier is also due in court on March 24 on charges of contempt for appearing on Glenn Beck’s The Blaze program to talk about his daughter’s case, in spite of a gag order issued by the judge to protect the secrecy of the court. It is apparently Lou’s belief that the First Amendment protects his freedom of speech, and that his fundamental rights as a father make him the safeguard of his daughter’s privacy rights in such a situation. (It is also presumed that Justina appreciates and agrees with her father’s attempts to secure help for them both.)
According to the United States Supreme Court, “The law… historically…has recognized that natural bonds of affection lead parents to act in the best interests of their children.” And again, “Simply because the decision of a parent…involves risks does not automatically transfer power to make that decision from the parents to some agency or officer of the state.” Parham v. J.R., 442 U.S. 584 (1979)
While ParentalRights.org is not currently involved in the Pelletier case, we are working to promote statutes in every state to protect this right of parents to make medical decisions for their children. Ultimately, the answer lies in adopting the Parental Rights Amendment to the United States Constitution to forever protect this right of parents to be the first, best line of defense for their children’s interests.
To support our efforts, please pass this email along. If you are not already on our mailing list, you can join by signing the petition at parentalrights.org/petition. Or you can volunteer here. Lastly, you can support our ongoing mission financially here.
Thank you for standing with us as we work to halt government abuses of parental rights, especially related to our most vulnerable – persecuted families in need of asylum and children in need of medical care.
Director of Communications & Research
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